Starz and Bough combine for 43
But aggressive offense not enough against bigger Bruins
Before the start of the boys’ varsity match up with Gardiner, Lone Peak’s sophomore big man Brayden Vaile sat in the stands in a shirt and tie. The 6΄3˝ backup injured his knee in the junior varsity game and that sidelined him for varsity play. He usually gets minutes in both games, but not against Gardiner.
“I went up to go get a rebound, a kid landed on my foot and my body went one way and my leg just stayed,” said Vaile. “I can’t put any weight on it.”
When pressed about the significant size advantage Gardiner’s varsity had over the visiting Big Horns, Vaile said, “They’re way tall.”
But Vaile added that Coach Austin Barth had the team in “the mind-set of win, win, win, don’t back down.”
Indeed, the Lone Peak boys, down one of their biggest players, came out swinging at the much larger Bruins. Austin Samuels, Kolya Bough, Milosz Shipman and Frankie Starz showed a lot of fight, driving for layups and each hitting a three pointer in the first half.
Bough deployed some acrobatic moves, saving a ball from out-of-bounds with an over-the-head reverse toss back into play and slashing into the lane, where Gardiner’s bearded big man, Bryson Stermitz, couldn’t match Bough’s quickness.
Bough’s three pointer in the second quarter cut the Bruin’s lead to 37-27, then Shipman fed Starz for a nice fast-break layup.
But Gardiner’s size neutralized Lone Peak’s starting center Jackson Wade, allowing the Bruins to grab offensive rebound after offensive rebound. This led to lots of second chance points and Gardiner widened the lead to 80-57 at the end of the third quarter.
With 3:40 left to play in the game, Gardiner subbed in its second string, and gritty play from the Big Horns kept the final score under 100, with the Bruins running away with it 98-74.
After the game, Coach Austin Barth said, “Defense was rough for us today. Rebounding was our struggle. The transition points and second chance points—a major percentage of their scoring came from that. Whenever it was a set play, our defense was fine. We just could not get a rebound and they were beating us in transition. Offensively though, it was good to see. Our free-throw percentage was great. We were attacking the rim there toward the end. There was just a little bit of timid in our boys and we need to get that out of them.”
Coach Barth singled out Starz and Bough for their confident play in the face of the Bruins’ intimidating front and backcourt.
Assistant Coach John Hannahs added, “That was the best offensive effort we’ve had all season. When we combine that with the defensive effort we’ve seen in past games, it’s going to be really, really special.”
The solid offensive showing seemed to carry over from the night before, when on Friday Jan. 5 at home, the Big Horns surged back from a 22-point deficit against Twin Bridges. In that game, Wade notched his fourth straight double-double with 10 rebounds and 16 points. And Cole March lit it up from behind the arc against the Falcons, matching a school record by hitting five three-pointers. Still, Lone Peak lost 57-46 and looks forward to a rematch with Twin Bridges on Feb. 3.
Before then on Jan. 11, the Big Horns are at home vs. West Yellowstone, followed by a Friday night showdown in Sheridan on Jan. 12.
Junior varsity Big Horns show heart
Junior varsity Big Horns show heart
The JV squad lost two in a row, falling to both Twin Bridges and Gardiner. But Mikey Botha, Nick Brester and Isaac Glimore stood out thanks to their hustle and strong shooting. In Gardiner, Gilmore appeared to take over at times, earning a nice layup and hitting two three pointers.